News Timeline: October 2004



Israel sends about 100 tanks into the Jabaliya refugee camp and the towns of Beit Hanoun and Beit Lahiya in northern Gaza in an operation against Palestinian militants. At least five Palestinians are killed in a missile strike in Jabaliya. Israel says the objective is to stop Palestinian rocket attacks on Israeli border towns.

October 1 – Middle East: IRAQ

American and Iraqi forces launch a major offensive in the Iraqi town of Samarra in an attempt to take control of the town from insurgents. Dozens of people are dead, including civilians.

October 4 – East Asia: INDONESIA

Indonesia confirms the victory of former general Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono in the country’s first direct presidential election. He says his priorities as president will be fighting widespread corruption and creating jobs.

October 5 – Middle East: IRAN

In a speech to the Aerospace Research Institute in Tehran, Iran’s former President Hashemi Rafsanjani says that Iran has missiles with a range of 1,243 miles. This brings Israel within the range of Iranian ballistic missiles, although Iran says it would use them only in self-defense.

October 7 – Middle East/North America: IRAQ/UNITED STATES

The Iraq Survey Group (ISG) issues a 1,000-page report which states that Iraq had no stockpiles of biological, chemical, or nuclear weapons before last year’s U.S.-led invasion. The report is seen as a final proof for great failures of intelligence. The U.S. and U.K. used allegations about WMD to go to war with Iraq. Despite the lack of weapons, the U.S. government says that Saddam Hussein’s intent and capability to rebuild Iraq’s weapons program justified the decision to invade Iraq.

October 9 – South Asia: AFGHANISTAN

Millions of Afghans turn out to vote in their first-ever presidential election, including 800,000 refugees in Pakistan and Iran. At the end of the election day, 15 out of 18 presidential candidates call for a boycott, complaining about the ink used to mark those who voted, which can be easily rubbed off, and call for a new poll. The international observers say that despite some irregularities the election was “fairly democratic.”

October 13 – Latin America: COLOMBIA

About 700,000 Colombians protest nationwide against President Alvaro Uribe’s economic policies. Protesters come from trade unions, civic groups, and opposition parties who rally against unemployment, plans to raise taxes, and plans to change the constitution to allow his re-election.

October 14 – East Asia: CAMBODIA

Cambodia’s Royal Throne Council chooses Norodom Sihamoni as the new king after his father abdicated a week ago. The new king is a former ballet dancer and his only previous public experience was the post of ambassador to UNESCO. The monarch’s position in today’s Cambodia is mostly symbolic, although it is still greatly respected by the Cambodian people.

October 14 – Africa: SOMALIA/KENYA

Somalia’s new president, Abdullahi Yusuf, takes the oath of office in Kenya during a ceremony attended by heads of state from other African countries. Abdullahi, who was elected by the parliament, is expected to form the first national government since 1991.

October 15 – Africa: CAMEROON

Cameroon’s President Paul Biya, who has been in power since 1982, is reelected with 75 percent of the vote. Opposition parties accuse authorities of massive election rigging.

October 15 – East Asia: CHINA

In the Chinese capital, Beijing, Russian President Vladimir Putin and Chinese President Hu Jintao sign several agreements which include the demarcation of borders, resolving a 40-year-old border dispute. But the main issue of building a pipeline to exploit oil from Siberia remains unresolved. China and Japan, both in great need for energy, have been competing for Russia’s oil.

October 15 – Europe/Middle East: POLAND/IRAQ

Polish Prime Minister Marek Belka announces that early next year Poland will start reducing its 2,500-strong forces in Iraq until complete withdrawal by December 2005. A strong U.S. ally, Poland leads a multinational division of 8,000 troops in south-central Iraq. However, 70 percent of the Polish people oppose their country’s military presence in Iraq.

October 18 – Russia and Other Former Soviet Republics: BELARUS

A controversial referendum approves changing the constitution to allow Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko to stay in office for a third term. International observers confirm widespread irregularities. Reports show marked paper ballots before the election. More than 1,000 opposition demonstrators march through the capital, Minsk, and clash with police.

October 19 – North America/East Asia: UNITED STATES/NORTH KOREA

U.S. President George W. Bush signs a law which allocates $24 million to promote human-rights groups in North Korea and makes North Koreans eligible for asylum in the U.S. Until now, the U.S. has treated North Koreans as citizens of South Korea.

October 19 – International Organizations/Latin America: INTERNATIONAL ATOMIC AGENCY/BRAZIL

Brazil reaches an agreement with the UN International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), which will inspect its nuclear facilities near the town of Resende, to reexamine the country’s plans to enrich uranium, and to make sure that no nuclear material is diverted to producing weapons.

October 20 – Middle East: LEBANON

Lebanese Prime Minister Rafiq Hariri and his cabinet submit their resignations to the country’s president, Emile Lahoud, over tensions between the pro-Syrian political supporters and opponents of Syria’s domination of Lebanon. Hariri is pro-Syrian, but a political rival of the president. Lebanon has been in political deadlock since the parliament, under Syria’s pressure, passed a constitutional amendment extending the president’s tenure.

October 24 – Latin America: BRAZIL

Brazil successfully launches into space its first rocket, VSV-30, or Brazilian Exploration Vehicle. The rocket is supposed to carry out experiments just outside the Earth’s atmosphere. Brazil hopes that the launch will boost its space program.

October 25 – South Asia/East Asia: INDIA/MYANMAR

The head of Burma’s military government, General Than Shwe, meets with India’s prime minister, Manmohan Singh, and signs three agreements on security, cultural exchange, and hydroelectric power. It is the first visit by a Burmese leader to India in almost 25 years.

October 27 – International Organizations/North America: AMNESTY INTERNATIONAL/UNITED STATES

Amnesty International issues a strongly worded report on torture and accountability in the war on terror, accusing the United States of allowing abuses of prisoners held by the U.S. in Iraq, Afghanistan, and Guantanamo Bay. The organization calls on the U.S. government to condemn the use of torture and ban it through legislation.

October 28 – Middle East: IRAQ

A study published by the Lancet accuses coalition forces in Iraq of poor planning, which led to more than 100,000 additional deaths in Iraq and the catastrophic public health decline. Another study also claims that the risk of death by violence for civilians in Iraq is now 58 times higher than before the invasion.

October 29 – Europe: EUROPEAN UNION

Leaders of the 25 European Union members sign the new EU constitution during a ceremony in Rome. However, the constitution still has to be ratified by every EU member-country, either by referendum or parliamentary vote.

October 29 – North America: UNITED STATES

More than 1,000 election observers are being deployed across the United States to watch for evidence of disenfranchisement during the November presidential election. This is three times more than in the 2000 presidential election, which ended in voters’ disputes in Florida.